You know Briggs and Peppers and Tillman. Those players are considered the core of the Chicago Bears defense. Sure, you might still remember Urlacher, but the sooner you start forgetting the better. Anyway, they have been around for a few years and have performed at a Pro Bowl level consistently. They’re guys that are well known outside of the Bears and have a reputation around the leauge. But a player that you may not have expected to give you a monster season and move into the spotlight would be Tim Jennings, who was ranked #69 in NFL.com’s Top 100 of 2013.
Here’s NFL.com’s clip describing Jennings’ terrific 2012 season which earned him his first trip to the Pro Bowl and his first nod to the Top 100 while leading the NFL with nine interceptions.
Jennings’ story is quite remarkable. He was cast aside by the Indianapolis Colts after the 2009 season. They were transitioning away from a base Cover-2 defense so then-coach Lovie Smith scooped him up as an ideal fit for his defense. He’s not a big corner, only standing about 5’8″ and 185 lbs, but what he lacks in physical size, he makes up for in toughness and heart. He’s a perfect Cover-2 cornerback, as a willing tackler and able to play well in zone coverage.
Jennings was anything but spectacular in his first couple of seasons with the Bears. In fact, at the end of the 2011 season, Jennings was benched in favor of the erratic Zackary Bowman. Many believed that part of his benching was due to the fact that he continued to drop sure interceptions, a big n0-no for a Love Smith defense. In the offseason that followed, Jennings dedicated himself to improving his hands and spent a ton of time working on catching those would-be interceptions.
The hard work paid off in 2012, as Jennings led the NFL with nine interceptions and earned him a trip to Hawaii to start at cornerback alongside teammate Peanut Tillman and earned him the #69 spot in the Top 100.
I think Jennings is a nice player and his 2012 season was a thing of legend at times. I mean, who could ever forget his Pick-6 to bail out the Bears in a lackluster performance against Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers last November?
With all due respect, I am surprised that Jennings cracked the Top 100 and even more surprised that he ranked ahead of Lance Briggs in the countdown.
You have to think that Peanut Tillman and Julius Peppers will make the list on the defensive side, while Brandon Marshall has to be ranked pretty highly to represent the Bears offense.
What do YOU think? Are you surprised at Jennings’ ranking? Which other Bears should make the list?